Parata backtracks over decile reform - Labour

Last updated 09:38 18/03/2014

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Labour leader David Cunliffe says Education Minister Hekia Parata's denial the school decile funding system would be overhauled is the "spectacular sound of a minister in retreat".

Over the weekend, Parata downplayed the idea of performance-based funding and a spokeswoman said it was not on the table.

Yesterday, Parata rejected claims the Government was planning to overhaul the school decile funding system, saying it was "simply not true".

"I met with each of the unions and sector groups two weeks ago and clarified these matters with them directly," she said.

"I am disappointed that despite this [teachers' union] the NZEI has persisted with their claims."

The minister and unions agree the current decile-based school funding method is clumsy and "blunt" and Parata has already instructed the Ministry of Education to investigate alternatives.

Cunliffe said Parata was contradicting herself.

"That's the spectacular sound of a minister in full retreat, and that's not what she said over the weekend," he said on Firstline.

"Now, we know that the decile funding is there for an important reason and that's to give some more resources to those kids who are in the most underprivileged communities.

"What the minister is talking about is a system that would ultimately fast-track the gap between winner schools and loser schools and that would make it worse for everybody - that is an extremely dangerous idea.

"New Zealanders ought to be very concerned about it, and we would fight it every tooth and nail."

But Parata said it was "usual process" after every Census for the Ministry of Education to calculate new decile rankings for the county's 2500 schools. The ministry was yet to receive the 2013 Census data.

Parata said decile funding, which accounted for 12 per cent of school funding, was not based on students' performance.

A school's decile indicated the extent to which the school drew its students from low socio-economic communities.

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